The $157,000 Polestar 1 is a spectacular insight into what Volvo's new brand can achieve. It's also the best car China has ever built
- The Polestar 1 is a 619-horsepower, high-performance, high-priced, gas-hybrid grand-touring car that's the first vehicle from Volvo's new stand-alone brand.
- The Polestar 1 was imagined in Sweden but built at a new factory in China under Geely, Volvo's owner of a decade.
- The Polestar 1 is a stunning debut - the best car China has ever produced and a immediate rival for some of the world's biggest names, from Porsche to Mercedes to Audi to even Ferrari and Lamborghini.
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Volvo's revival under Chinese ownership has been impressive.Geely, the Swedish automaker's parent company bought it from Ford in 2009, just as the financial crisis was starting to bite. Advertisement
We've already seen a new spate of Volvo SUVs and made-in-China sedans - plus a brand-new manufacturing plant in South Carolina. But most intriguing was the establishment in 2017 of the Polestar brand as a stand-alone manufacturer, tasked with carrying the electric-vehicle banner for the Sino-Swedish nameplate.
After a bit of a wait, I finally got a chance to grab some seat time in the first official Polestar product, the aptly named Polestar 1.Polestar 1 is a bridge to the forthcoming, all-electric Polestar 2. For now, we'll have to subsist on a Polestar diet of a turbocharged-and-supercharged gas engine mated to a pair of electric motors driving the rear wheels.
It's a potent combination, and I was prepared to be impressed. I just wasn't prepared for how impressed:
The Polestar 1 I sampled for a few hours, zipping around the New Jersey highways and byways west of New York City, wore a dashing white paint job offset by black highlights and flickers of chrome.
The Polestar 1 is a performance car and it looks it. Volvo coupés have been few and far between. The last two-door in the lineup was the C30 hatchback.Advertisement
The clear antecedent for the Polestar 1 is the Volvo P1800, a smashing sports car that arrived in the early 1960s and gained fame when driven by Roger Moore in "The Saint."
Polestar 1 is more Swedish than Italian, however (the P1800 enjoyed an Italian design). Its stance and attitude are also less sprezzatura than "Skoal!"Advertisement
That said, the Polestar lineup will come from a new factory in China.
The Volvo fascia is an acquired taste. But once you acquire it, the taste is addictive. It makes an especially memorable first impression on the Polestar one.Advertisement
The Thor's hammer headlights, a Volvo signature, have been carried over.
The Polestar badge is cool and EXTREMELY subdued. Polestar was Volvo's performance brand, but in 2017 it was spun off to form a new electrified nameplate.Advertisement
The grille is an intricate marriage of black and chrome.
The Polestar 1 is ostensibly a grand-touring car, or a 2+2, but unlike GT cars of the past, it's relatively modest hood length indicated an equally modest engine. The powerplant is a mere 2.0-liters in displacement.Advertisement
The wheels on my tester were gorgeous, and the yellow brake calipers were a cool touch. The Polestar 1, being a hybrid, utilized regenerative braking to reclaim power.
This sticker was the most Scandinavian element. But it's also a tip to how much lightweight carbon-fiber the Polestar 1 is made of. A good thing as even a medium-size electric battery takes the weight up above 5,000 pounds.Advertisement
The Polestar 1 is a fastback coupé, but not a hatch.
The rear is a study in minimalism. There's a small spoiler that can be deployed at the driver's discretion.Advertisement
Let's take a look under the hood.
There's a lot going on here. The 2.0-liter inline four is turbocharged and supercharged, cranking out 326 horsepower before a pair of battery packs (34 kilowatt hours total) and two electric motors take that to 619 horsepower, with everything piped to a hybrid all-wheel-drive system through an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Top speed is 155 mph and the 0-60 mph run happens in 4.2 seconds.Advertisement
The trunk isn't exactly huge, but for EV nuts, it has a groovy feature.
It showcases the battery-electric connections, behind a clear panel. They have to be bright orange so that emergency crews can identify them.Advertisement
Definitely one of the neatest design touches I've seen in an electrified vehicle.
A charging cable is stowed in an easy access case.Advertisement
The Polestar 1 can fully recharge on DC fast charging in less than an hour, the company said. On slower level 1 or level 2 charging, the 70 miles of all-electric range is slower to restore, but owners using 240-volt power should be able to fully re-juice overnight.
The charge port is located aft, left rear.Advertisement
The Polestar 1's interior is clean and elegant. Not sure how I feel about the bright orange shoulder belt, but it is what it is. The seats are mad comfy, yet supportive when necessary, and covered in Nappa leather.
Yep, it's a 2+2, and plus-two provides adequate legroom for ... Baby Yoda?Advertisement
The multifunction steering wheel, instrument cluster, and other interior details are borrowed from Volvo.
That's real carbon fiber on the dash.Advertisement
The Bowers & Wilkins premium audio system sounds magnificent.
For the most part, the Polestar 1's interior is devoid of bling. Except in the center console.Advertisement
The toggle shifter is crystal.
The infotainment system is based on Volvo's innovative and oft-overlooked Senus setup.Advertisement
I didn't fully evaluate it on my first drive, but I've used it extensively in Volvos and I have nothing but praise. It used a tablet touchscreen layout and requires some swiping to operate, but it's quite good once you pass the learning curve.
The Polestar 1 has five driving modes, ranging from all-electric to all-performance.Advertisement
The roof is essentially all sunroof.
This makes for a wonderful experience in the cabin.Advertisement
The Polestar 1 is stupendous. Not only is it something of a technological marvel, it looks fantastic and drives ever better.
So what's the complete first-drive verdict?Advertisement
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